Monday, August 31, 2009

Empty Nest.... AHHHHHH!!!

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

I'm STILL tired! Apparently 6 hours is my time limit on sleep. Ah, well... on to my story.

I have a confession to make. This is the one college mov
e I was really looking forward to on several fronts.

First, Dani has given me a lot of trouble over the past 5 years (to be honest, this kid has been a major brat most of her life!) When her dad left and I was such a mess, she got to be the adult and learned quickly to take care of herself (which is great now because she's very self-sufficient). And since I met John, it's been REALLY bad! Not going into it, but just saying...

Second, I've had kids in school for 20 years now. And I was the parent who got them up for school, helped with homework, drove them places, filled out all those friggin forms every single year. I did my 20. Time to retire! Too bad you don't get a pension for being a mommy. (actually you do.. it's called grandkids but it's not time for them yet.)

So Saturday was THE DAY!!! The timing isn't good, with John in the hospital and my ex sent me a message 2 days before the move to ask if I wanted him to take her to school (thanks Greg... you learned from your bitch sister really well to wait until the last minute to offer to help) I said no, unless Dani wanted him to go with her. She didn't.

We were going to pack up the cars on Friday night, but it was raining, so we decided to wait until the morning instead. Luckily, the rain had stopped by morning (temporarily). We were up at 6:30 to shower and pack the car and heading out by 7:30! Woo hoo! On time and perhaps even a few minutes early! I had Dani gas up the cars the night before. I gave her $10 for my car, but it only took the gauge to 3/4 full so we stopped at Wawa (like 7/11 or Turkey Hill or Cumberland Farms or Sheetz) for coffee and stuff and I topped off my gas tank. We're on the road before 8am which is terrific!

This is the picture of her new dorm building. They are replacing
all the old dorms one by one and they're all just beautiful!

The trip to IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) is 4.5 hour drive, 260 miles, more than half of it on the PA Turnpike. On the way it rained a little here and there, not bad. Once we got past Harrisburg, the rain started in earnest! It POURED!!! We had to go through 3 tunnels when we got to the mountains and that seemed to be the only break from the weather we had for a while. The rain finally slowed up, and we had light rain on and off for a while longer, then stopped altogether.

These are the choices for dorms. Dani's in a 4 girl suite, the top center picture

I swear, as soon as we drove past the sign that said Borough of Indiana, the rain started up again! Our time to move in was 1 pm and we got to town at 12:45pm! Perfect! We get to the school, grab 2 spots, Dani heads off to check in and I start unloading the cars. Thank goodness I borrowed the hand truck from work! We got all her stuff to her room in 3 trips! Not bad! Her rooms are really nice!!! She's in a 4 girl suite, 2 girls in each bedroom, with a bathroom in each bedroom and in between the 2 rooms is a kitchen and a living room! This suite was only a few hundred more per year than a regular 2 person dorm room. And its in a brand new building! I didn't get to meet Dani's room mate... she was at a family reunion and didn't get back to the dorm until about 10 pm. I did meet the other 2 suite mates. They seem like nice girls!

So we move the cars to the long term parking lot, getting her parking pass along the way. The lot is a good 10-15 minute walk from the school, but there are shuttle buses that run back and forth throughout the day and there are also buses that take kids into town for free! Supposedly, Dani is only using her car to drive home for orthodontist appointments and she'll leave the car at home once the braces come off. Yeah, right. We'll see.

So back to the dorm to unpack and then we head over to the bookstore to buy her books because we totally forgot about ordering books early and getting a 10% discount. Her dad put $600 in her account for books and her bill was $275! Three of her profs didn't require books! Woo hoo! Don't tell Dad!!!

The bus heading to the parking lot goes by once an hour, so a little after 4:30 I left Dani in her dorm. I didn't cry, but I will admit to getting a bit choked up for a few seconds. Dani ruffled my hair and said, "Oh, you're so cute, Mom!" hahaha

By 5pm, I was heading out of town. Luckily, the rain didn't start up again (it stopped right after we got her moved in... rained long enough to soak us good!). As I got closer to my end of the turnpike, I could see lightning in the distance, but I didn't get any rain. I had to drive past work, so I stopped there and dropped off the hand truck. I thought about having a drink but decided against it because it just might put my on my ass!

I got to my house around 10:30pm, completely exhausted! I had gotten a large coffee for the drive home, so I was caffeinated!! I couldn't go right to sleep, but once I did go to bed, I was out like a light quickly!

Then I was wide awake at 6:30 on Sunday morning! Damn! I thought I'd sleep until 10 at least!
So I headed downstairs, put on a pot of coffee, caught up a bit here and on Facebook. Then I started to take my house back! I figure it's going to take me 2 weeks to get everything put away and thrown out. I just might need a dumpster!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

530 miles!

Oh my goodness! I am so friggin' tired! I left my house at 7:30 am, after loading up 2 cars with junk and drove 3/4 of the way across my great state of PA, only to unload the crap and drive back home! I arrived home a little after 10 pm. But I'm caffeinated, so I can't sleep, but I can't concentrate either!

I may never get caught up with reading blogs. Oh well. I'll write about my adventures in sending my kid off to college in a day or so. Right now, I need to get this bra off and go to bed.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Day ZERO!!! Happy New Birthday John!

I sent John a message this morning to remind him that he wanted to get cleaned up before they did the transplant and he replied, "Too late, They've already started." The transplant itself was quick and painless and took only a few minutes. He was given his stem cells back and we wait and see what happens.

His white blood count is still not bad, but he was told his numbers will continue to drop for some days and he WILL be at zero WBC and then he'll be neutropenic. That means his immune system will be non-existent and he could pick up all kinds of infections and illnesses. Scary as hell, huh.

John was feeling pretty good today and even did 3 turns around the floor, pushing his IV pole with him. This afternoon, he was in the bathroom, cleaning up and changing PJs and stuff when he suddenly felt like he was going to pass out! Instead of calling for the nurse, he rinsed himself off, dried off, put on clean underwear and PJ bottoms, got into bed and THEN called the nurse!
(sheesh!! I guess I'm the only one who's allowed to see him naked!)

He said they all came running when he called! They drew blood from his catheter, drew blood from his arms, sent him down for x-rays, gave him more, stronger antibiotics. I was at work when he sent me the text message telling me about nearly passing out.

So now I'm at home because I need to get to bed earlier than normal because I'm driving with Dani to college tomorrow. It's a 4 or 5 hour trip each way. I'm going to need a lot of coffee to make that trip all in one day! (I'll write about that adventure in a few days)

So that's where everything stands for now. I think we were getting a little too confident that maybe he'd be getting out sooner than they said because his numbers were staying high and he wasn't getting side effects. Time will tell and we have to learn to be patient. I told John to expect a little bit of mail in the next week or so. hehehehehe!!! OH! I guess I should add that he can't have any fresh fruit or flowers and no latex balloons (but mylar are OK) I don't expect anyone to send anything other than a card, but ya never know!

Thanks so much for all the emotional support! It means more than you can ever know!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

John's New Birthday!

Nope, I didn't weigh myself yet. Such a slacker. Hell, at this point I'm lucky if I show up at work on time!

What I did want to share is tomorrow, not Saturday, is Stem Cell Transplant Day! Tomorrow is officially Day Zero! I wish I could be there for it, but I have to work. I guess it's just as well because there are going to be a lot of people in the room when this all goes down. They're doing the transplant right in John's room. I'm not sure how they do it.

This morning (Thursday, that is) John was doing ok, then suddenly felt really nauseous and ended up throwing up (sorry for TMI) in the trashcan. No way was he making into the bathroom, since he had to unplug this intravenous machine. The nurse gave him a Compazine and he's been fine ever since. He said his appetite wasn't so good for breakfast, but I think he got over it by lunch and dinner.

We were saying how amazed we both were that he wasn't having any side effects from this chemo since it's supposed to be very high dosage. The nurse told us that sometimes the side effects don't kick in for a few days. I hope the hurling was a fluke!

I won't get to see John again until Sunday because Dani and I have to leave really early for her college on Saturday, so I want to try to get some sleep early tomorrow (Friday) night. I'm going to miss him!

I'll let you all know how he makes out tomorrow.

OH! I had mentioned the other day that I was the only person who visits John, and I felt really bad about that, especially on the days I can't get in to see him. Someone suggested I post his address so if anyone wants they can send him a card to cheer him up!. So if you want, here's his address at the hospital!

John F. Russo
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Rhoads 6013

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WWW on Thursday this week and an update

Since I spent Tuesday night at the hospital, I wasn't home to weigh myself, but I'm home now, so tomorrow morning, I'll weigh-in and blog about my week.

John is doing absolutely terrific with this chemo! Until earlier this evening, he's had no side effects from all the chemo they've been pumping into him since Saturday. After lunch today, he had a bit of nausea, so they give him a compazine and he was fine. The nurse did tell us that some side effects might hit in a few days.

This evening, John was given his last bag of chemo. Tomorrow is considered Day -1 and it's a rest day. No treatments at all. On Friday morning, they'll do the stem cell transplant, right in his room. I wish I could be there for that but I have to work and I also have to get up very very early on Saturday to take Dani to college, 5 hours away. So I won't be going in to visit with John on Friday or Saturday. I feel bad because I'm the only one who visits him!

They keep a chart on his wall of his white Blood cells, Hemoglobin and platelet counts. Normal white cell counts range between 4 and 10. By the end of the week, Johns WBC should be 0. As of today, it was 8. It's been around 10+ all week. Unless something dramatic happens in the next day or so, I don't see that happening. Maybe he won't have to stay in the hospital as long as they predicted! I guess time will tell. There are other numbers too but I'm too tired to post about them.

Well, it's rather late, I'm really tired, so I'm hitting the sack! More tomorrow!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

HELP!!!! HTML Challenged lady here!

HELP!!! I have a "technical" question for anyone who can help me.

Does anyone know how to widen my posts? I have all this space to the left and right and it's getting on my nerves. I can't understand the mumbo jumbo instructions to change it. I also tried to change my blog into a 3 column blog. I found the instructions. They may as well be in Arabic! I can't understand one word of it!

UPDATE: As you can see, problem solved! Thanks everyone!

John's drunken evening

I am typing this from John's hospital room, while he sleeps. They are allowing me to stay overnight whenever I want! This is good, because some nights I'm so tired!

They started the first part of the chemo at night because this stuff makes the patient drunk! It's an ethanol-based drug called Carmustine. Here's the link if you're interested in reading about this drug.

Poor John! The man has never been drunk in his life and the one time he does, he can't even get the fun side of it! It only took an hour to get all the stuff into him, but the effects hit him rather quickly. He got very red in the face and head and ears. Then he suddenly got a killer headache! His mouth got dry, his nose and throat started to hurt, like they were burning or really bad sore throat.

The oddest thing about it was he sighed a big breathy sigh and his breath smelled like he'd been drinking for hours!! Then he got a bit dizzy and had to lie down. He kept thanking me for staying and telling me what a good support I've been. I don't know if that was the drugs talking or not, but it was amusing!

Now he's snoring away and I'm trying to type in the dark! The family waiting room is right across the hall. I might go over there to watch TV or use the desktop computer they have in there. I'm not the least bit tired right now!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick update. It's late (after midnight) and I just got home from the hospital. John is THERE, in a single room (That's good. It means they plan on keeping him there for the month). They like the way his neck looks, it's clearing up. Chemo is supposed to start in the morning. That's it for now. I'll let you know more when I know more. Now I'm dragging this sorry ass up to bed!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dear So and So

Dear Admissions Office at HUP,

Thanks so much for NOT letting us know that John was supposed to be admitted on THURSDAY! It's a good thing he decided to call his doctor's office to find out when he might be going back in. Now he has to wait until I finish work today to go.

His Significant Other


Dear Dr. Transplant Specialist,

This transplant BETTER work! And it would be nice if you showed your face this week. I'm beginning to think you're a figment of John's imagination.

just sayin',
Tired Caregiver


Dear Youngest Offspring,

It would be nice if you got all your shit out of my living room and kitchen. I know it's your stuff for college. Still, I can't wait to get my house back. And nice of you to leave the front door OPEN all night!

Mommy Dearest


Dear Self,

One more week. You can put up with this crap for one more week. Then you'll get your house back and your life back.

soon to be celebrating empty nest,


Dear Junk Food,

I'm sorry, but our love affair has to end. We've been together on and off for years, but the time has come to say good bye. The vegetables, fruits and healthy grains are terribly jealous. I need to spend more time with them. My blood sugar levels will be happy too, I think. Please don't fret. There are many others who still love you and want you. You'll be just fine.



Dear Older Daughter,

I'm sorry you have to drive Ruth (the 1988 Honda Accord previously driven by the teenage sister) until your insurance claim is settled and you can buy a decent car. Hopefully, it won't be too long until that happens.



You know, you can do your very own Dear So and So. Hop on over to Kat's place at 3 Bedroom Bungalow To Let in Crazytown and grab the button and click on Mr. Linky! Why not go over now and see what others' have to say to So and So. Go on. You know you want to!

Pssst! There's a love letter to Mary Ellen just below this one! Check it out!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mary Ellen is the AWESOMEST!

You all know Mary Ellen over at Adopting ME. I think she is one of the awesomest, wonderfulest, greatest gals in the world!

Why? You ask? Well, I'll tell you!
Quite a few years ago, when my kids were smaller, I used to do jigsaw puzzles and my kids, Gina in particular, used to help me with them. I found a puzzle that turned out to be very favorite because it was so different. The brand was Buried Blueprints and the puzzles were taken right out of history with a slice right down the middle. The puzzle I owned was of King Tut's tomb. It was a pyramid, but part of the pyramid was sliced open to reveal layers of the tomb, with written stuff here and there throughout the tomb. The puzzle was not an easy one to do, but little by little, I got it finished. I either Mod Podged it together or put it back in the box, but I have since lost it. I have been searching for a Buried Blueprint puzzle for more than 2 years. Whenever I was in a toy store or Walmart, etc., I 'd look for one. No luck. I recently discovered the company is out of business and the puzzles cannot be bought in stores.

So, not too long ago, and I'm not even sure how this came about, Mary Ellen was talking about these very same puzzles!!! I told her I'd been searching for one and, lo and behold! Mary Ellen sent me one in the mail!!!
I am now the proud borrower of The Adventures of Robin Hood puzzle! Mary Ellen, your timing is impeccable! We JUST, in the past few minutes, got word that John is to go back into the hospital tomorrow to FINALLY begin his stem cell transplant!! It could be that next Saturday, August 29, (it takes 6 days of chemo, and one day of rest before they do the transplant) John will be receiving his new lease on life!!

(OH SHIT!!!! That's the day I have to take Dani to college! shit shit shit!)

Ok, deep breath.... anyway..... Mary Ellen, I'll be taking this puzzle to the hospital with us and we have all month to complete it! Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! MUAH!!!!! I heart you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Weight Watchers Wednesday

Today is my weigh-in day. Considering the week we had, I don't think I did too badly. I didn't lose any weight, but I didn't gain any either. With John going into the hospital for his transplant, and then being sent home because of a little thing on his neck, we were stressed big time!

8/05/09 starting weight 220 (YIKES!!!!)
8/12/09 week one 217
8/19/09 week two 217

I am a stress eater. And I go for comfort and junk food when I'm stressed or angry. I noticed the anger eating when my kids were young. Whenever I was mad at them, I'd head right for the fridge. The same can be said for stress. And I was stressed like I haven't been in several years! Mashed potatoes, crackers and cheese, ice cream, crunchy snacks. I love them all. In the entire week, I probably ate maybe 15 real meals.

I have to say the only time I was stressed and couldn't eat was in December 2004, when I found out my husband was having an affair with a woman from his office. He stayed in my home for about 8 weeks after I found out. If he wasn't at home, I couldn't eat, period. I was afraid if I tried to eat, I'd throw up. So, I existed on green tea, coffee and water. I forced myself to eat dinner every night because my family would realize I wasn't eating. In those 8 weeks, I lost 20 lbs. Once he moved out, I eventually got my appetite back and made up for lost time. I gained back the weight and then some.

OK, enough of that! I'm not going to beat myself up for my poor food choices this past week. I stayed the same weight. I wasn't moving as much as I normally would. You sit a lot when you're spending time with someone in the hospital and when you do move, you move slowly!

I have an interesting book here that I read a year or so ago, written by a woman named Susan Blech. It's called Confessions of a Carb Queen. It's the story of her journey to fitness and this lady tells it like it is! Here's the link to her website: Confessions of a Carb Queen . She also has a blog on Blogger but she hasn't written anything since the New Year: Confessions Of A Carb Queen .

Things I've learned this week:

~ I must move if I want to lose weight.

~ I really shouldn't go to the grocery store when I'm hungry.

~ I cannot, under any circumstances have Cheetohs in the house. There's no way I can ration them!

~ When I feel the urge to chow down, I must call my sponsor (thanks Alix!!)

~ John and I are terrible enablers to each other!

~ I have to get used to tracking what goes in my mouth on a regular basis. The past week, I didn't track my food. Maybe keep a little notebook in my purse and write stuff down as I eat it. Then enter it on the food tracker online.

OK, hugs to me and I'll do better this week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hey! My 200th Post! Caves and movies

Hey! I just noticed that this is my 200th post! I've been so pre-occupied that I didn't even realize it until just now (after I published the post, that is). Cool!

See my new header? That was John after I got him out of the house. That was taken in the snack bar at
Crystal Cave in Kutztown, PA. I thought since he's bald now, I should have a bald picture of him on my header. When he gets his hair back, I'll put a new one up.

So like I said in my post yesterday, I got John out of the house and we drove to Kutztown, PA to see Crystal Cave. I've been there several times before and I think, you've seen one cave, you've seen them all. But John had never been there, and it was a nice day, so we took a nice long ride up to see it.

One of the things I had forgotten about Crystal Cave is you have to walk up lots of steps to get to the cave. Then, once you're there, you have to walk down a bunch of stairs inside the cave, then back up again. Needless to say, I got my workout in!

I was going to put some pictures up showing the stalactites and stalagmites but they looked lame, so I didn't. I had to get them on Google images because when we got inside the cave I discovered that my batteries were dead on my camera. I had to wait until after the cave tour to buy batteries in the gift shop. You can click on the link of you want to see the website and check out some pics there.

Just a few miles down the road, at the other end of town is the restaurant I used to own with my ex-husband. We ran it for 6 years before we closed it. It was cool though! The restaurant was actually a big stone building, built in 1740 and expanded in 1800 something and again in the 1970s. It even had it's own resident ghost (Susanna Levan Kemp)

Anyway, I wanted to see it because I hadn't been there in a few years. After we closed up, someone else bought it (named it Season's Grille) and they ran it for 6 years and it recently closed. I walked around the building and could not believe how dilapidated it was!!! I wish I could have gone inside to see it. I did peek in the windows. I found a notice on the front door from the tax office that it was being sold for delinquent taxes, for $18,600 and change! I know he paid well over $300,000 for the building and the business!

It was a really nice day for us! John got back in a really good mood. He ate well, was laughing and is back to his old self again. (thank goodness!)

Today John had to get some blood work done, so we headed out to Abington Hospital to their lab.

On the way back, we stopped at the library for a while, then we decided to see a movie.

We saw GI Joe. Actually, it was pretty good! Lots and lots of stuff was blown up. Buff guys for me to look at and a chick with a tight black outfit for John to ogle! There was even some Ninja stuff! It's not going to win any Oscars but it was entertaining!

So here's the other picture the nice girl at the snack bar took for us.Boy is my face red!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yet another update

We're at the library so I could get online.

I went to John's yesterday and he was very depressed! I did get him out of bed and while he was getting dressed, I drew up his insulin, took a blood sugar test, took his temp, filled his meds in the little day boxes, change the dressing on his rash, and got his ass out of the house.

We went to our favorite diner for lunch and they were really surprised to see us. We told them we wouldn't be in for more than a month, but here we were. John was perking up by the time we left the apartment, so that was good. Got some food in him and we decided to take a drive to Crystal Cave in Kutztown, PA. John always wanted to go there, so that's what we did. We were gone for about 7 hours or so!

By the time we got back home, he was his old self again. We watched some TV, ate dinner and it the sack after midnight.

Today is my last day of vacation and I have to go back home tonight, but I'll be back there on Wednesday. Today we had to go to the hospital for his blood work that he gets drawn every Monday and Wednesday, but we go to a hospital near John's place and they fax the report to the doctor in Philly. Now we're at the library and our plan is to go to the movies this afternoon.

I have some pics to put up and I'll do that tonight when I get home. I think I'm going to put a new picture on my header, with John bald!

So things are looking up. The doctors office is supposed to call in the next day or so. He has to be on this antibiotic for 5 days. We hope hope hope they'll want to re-admit him very soon! John might get pro-active and call the doctor's office in a bit. I think he should!

OK, more when I know more!!! Thanks for listening... or reading... or ... well ... you know what I mean!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pissed doesn't even describe it! (and a wee update)

I was so angry last night, I was crying, and it takes a lot to make me cry any more. And by the way, this in a long ass post.

After sitting in the hospital for 3 days with no treatment starting other than a small bag of magnesium, the doctor sent John home until further notice.

Backtrack to last week. Last Thursday, John noticed an itchy spot on his neck. He was scratching at it. When I got to his place on Saturday, I noticed a red spot on his neck about the size of a quarter. So I put some Neosporin on it. We didn't think anything of it, other than to try to get rid of it.

I have to say this first. Everyone we dealt with has been very very nice and professional. We had no qualms with any of the staff, from the lady at Central Registration to the nurses and CNAs to the folks who deliver the meals.

So with that being said...

On Tuesday night, John got a call from the hospital, telling him to be there at 9 am on Wednesday for check-in. Shit. All the other times he had to be there, we'd get a call in late afternoon, saying come now. So our plan was to sleep in, go to breakfast, maybe see a matinee before going to the hospital (which takes an hour to get there). So those plans were shot to hell. Instead we have to get up at 6:30 to get ready and be there by 9 am.

Wednesday 9am. We check in at central check-in, and sit for nearly 2 hours, while they try to get a room for him. (we were told a room would be available) Now, because John is coming in for transplant, and by the end of the chemo treatment (6 days) his white blood cell count will be at zero, he needs to be in a single room because he'll be in isolation.

Near 11 am, the lady comes to tell us we're going to the Transition Unit until his room is ready. They can start his treatment in there, so no worries! The transition Unit is just off the ER, looks very much like an ER or a same-day surgery unit. We were there for 4 or 5 hours. They did all his blood work there. I swear I was surprised he had blood left in his body! They took about 10 vials of blood!

Sometime after 4 pm, they tell us he has a room on the 7th floor. There are 3 floors just for Cancer patients, with the 6th and 7th dedicated to transplant people, and they are all full, all the time! So we get up there with all John's stuff and they put him in a room with another patient. Uh, what about the isolation?
Oh, this is just temporary until a single opens up. You don't need it until you are Neutropenic (white cells at zero). We can start your chemo right here.

OK, fine. We get John all unpacked and settled in. The nurse practitioner comes in, asks 200 questions and asks John to remove his shirt so she can see his Pheresis catheter (where they'll give him his stem cells in a week.)
What's this? and she points to the red spot. Oh, it's just a bug bite we think. Hmmm...... Of course, they need to check it out. We must get to the bottom of this, so no chemo on Wednesday.

Thursday morning. We have to get a dermatologist to look at it. So they send an intern in (hours later) and she asks a ton of questions. Then the resident and the dermatologist comes in (about an hour or so later) and they look and ask the same questions. I think they were trying to fault me with putting the Neosporin on. HELLO!! Neosporin is a topical antibiotic! I probably prevented it from getting infected or more infected and it's gone down since I did it!

So they decide to do a biopsy on it and get the bottom of it because they have no idea what it is.
We later learn they suspect it might be shingles. (no, he had chicken pox as a kid) or maybe herpes (ew!). Frankly, we think it was a bug bite of some kind and John scratching it made it a little bit infected. So, no chemo on Thursday. They did, however, remove the picc line from his arm because there was a kink in the line and they can do the chemo and the transplant out of the catheter in his chest anyway. No need for 2 sets of these.

I needed to get a 15 day parking pass because it would only be about $4.65 a day instead of $10 a day to park. I couldn't get one until Friday when my partial support check cleared. Thank God I wasn't able to get it earlier because there are no refunds! And you would have heard my big mouth all over the hospital if I had purchased it and then they sent him home!

Friday morning. I have to drive to John's to get some stuff for him and bring it to the hospital. This is a pain in the ass because he lives 30 miles in the wrong direction, but I do it because I love him and he needs this stuff. When I get to his apartment, he sends me a message that they are talking about sending him home! WHAT????
They don't want to start the chemo while he has this thing on his neck because it could go through his whole body if it's not taking care of and he can treat it at home. shit.

But they want to wait until the dermatologist comes back and they get the results of the biopsy. My plan was to stop at the cashier's and buy my parking pass. I'm so glad John told me about the possibility of going home or I would've bought that friggin' pass. As it was, the 3 days of parking cost $29.

So I drive to the hospital and I'm very proud of myself for going all the back roads by myself and not getting lost! And I'm ornery. I don't want to watch any of the movies John had packed (they were all his dumb libertarian propaganda films or really old stuff from the 1930s or sci-fi/horror stuff) He's trying to play the "but I'm sick with cancer and in the hospital" card but I ain't buying it. And now I'm annoyed that he's playing free cell for 2 hours when I want to get online and pay my jc penneys charge. And I know it's the stress from all this crap talking (he has been like this for about 2 weeks), but I really want to get this process moving, and maybe he'll stop asking me to play games and watch movies that I really don't want to see. sigh. What I really want to do is just get stinking drunk.

Around 7 pm, the nurse practitioner comes in and tells John that they are sending him home with ointment and an antibiotic. The nurses are all apologizing to us because they know we're pissed. It's not their fault and we understand why they don't want to start the chemo until this is cleared up. But it's nearly cleared up now! John doesn't want to go home and have to start the process all over again! And the cancer is still there, maybe growing as we speak.

John has missed 4 days of work so far from this (and this doesn't include the days he was in for chemo in June and July. Those were missed weeks as well) and if he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid and he doesn't get sick days. They have his shifts covered for the next month and then some, so he's not needed at work right now. Thank God he has his military pension that will pay his rent and electric, but now we have to call any other creditors and hope they hold his accounts until he gets back to work sometime in October.

I have wasted a week's vacation. (well not really because we did spend a lot of time together) The plan was that I'd be there when he went through the chemo part of this transplant. Now when he goes in for the transplant, I won't be able to be there until after work each day. I do have another week or vacation coming to me, but I need that week for the time when John comes home from the hospital because he has to come to my house, because he can't be alone for several days (or weeks maybe).

So we were 2 really not happy campers driving home last night. It was a Murphy's Law kind of evening. I kept missing turns because I wasn't familiar with the route in the dark. I seriously wanted to get drunk last night, but the liquor stores were closed by the time we got home. Stupid PA has state controlled liquor stores, so we can't purchase liquor in the grocery stores like a lot of you lucky folks. John wanted to go to Wendy's for buffalo wings, but I wanted to go to Friendlys for the alternative to alcohol... ice cream! So we did both. I only got ice cream but John had ice cream cone followed by buffalo wings and a 1/2 lb. cheeseburger!

So that's where we stand right now. John is to call the doctor on Monday (I have my doubts that she exists because I have never seen her. John swears she does. When know more, I'll pass on the info to you!


I had to come home today to take Dani shopping for college and I was supposed to go back to John's. Well, Dani's car had broken down in NJ when she shopped with her dad and he had the car towed to a Pep Boys for repair. Today, I had to drive her to NJ to get the car.

I left John's house at 10 am. I sent him a text a few hours later that I had to take Dani to NJ to get her car. I asked him if he had eaten. He said no, he wasn't hungry. I called him at 6pm to let him know I was heading back to PA and I had to stop home for clothes. The man was still in bed, since 1 am the night before! He never ate, never took his meds. He was just sleeping away!

I told John I didn't want to go to his place if all he was going to do was sleep. At home I have cable tv, I have my computer with online access. So he said fine. So I didn't go. He gets like this when he's depressed. If I had gone there, I'd have been completely pissed off, and I wasn't about to drive another hour just to be pissed off.

I'll go over there tomorrow and drag his sorry ass out of bed and make him take his meds and eat. The man has diabetes and high blood pressure and he's supposed to be taking an antibiotic so he can get his ass back into the hospital and get this damned chemo going. He's allowed one day to feel sorry for himself and that day was today. Tomorrow he better buck up and get over himself. He has hard work to do and I'm not going to let him give up. I have too much invested in him for any other alternative. (gee? can you tell I'm pissed?)

8 am Sunday. He's still in bed. 30 hours. How can anyone sleep like that without anesthesia?
I don't know whether to be angry or scared. I do know if I drive over there (an hour) and he won't get up, I'm REALLY going to be pissed!

I spoke to him a little while ago. He's so worried about paying bills that he just doesn't want to think, so he sleeps. I'm heading over there now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meme and an award! ( and a mini John update)

Julia over at Sometimes Lucid tagged me for this meme and a cool award goes with it! (and you know how much I LOVE getting awards!) Hey! I'm the 4th of 8 kids! I'll take attention any way I can get it!

Anyway, the rules are:

I have to share 7 personality traits of mine.

Then I have to share this award with 7 people.

Seven Personality Traits I Used To Have (and a few I still have)

1. Procrastination is my middle name. I used to get everything completed on time, with time to spare. My sister was always amazed that I had my Christmas shopping done by the beginning of December and all my gifts were wrapped as soon as I brought them home. Now? You'll find me, on Christmas Eve, in my bedroom, in a gift wrapping frenzy! I also start my shopping about a week before Christmas.

I used to be punctual. I'm blaming blogging (and Facebook and email and Pogo) on being nearly late for work every day. John now knows that I'll be 30 minutes later than the time I gave him for my arrival at his place (this is if we don't have a pressing engagement).

I used to have a great memory. I blame pregnancy and childbirth on my ever-increasing forgetfulness. I used to have everything ready to go, grab my stuff and go out the door. Now? I have to go back inside at least 2 times whenever I leave the house. And if I do manage to get out the door on the first try? I usually leave something on the kitchen table that I needed to take with me.

I'm a wimp. Yes, I admit it. I hate confrontation and will do just about anything to avoid it. This is why I am not a manager at work. My ex-husband made me fire someone when we had our resturant and I nearly threw up when I did it.

I'm a really good friend. I'll do anything (within reason) for friends and family.

I'm a good listener. And I've learned to keep my mouth shut. If you don't want something repeated, I'll keep it to myself. A young woman I work with found out she was pregnant and she told me right away. I knew for 3 weeks before she said anything at work. When she mentioned it to a fellow at work in front of me, he said now everyone would know because she said it in front of me. I will admit to being a bit smug when I informed him that I had known for 3weeks!

I don't have a lot of patience sometimes. There's a reason why I'm not a teacher. Frankly, I don't like other people's kids all that much. You can't beat them when they're fresh or rude like you can your own!

Seven people I'll share this with, because their
personalities just burst through their blogs!

Alix at Casa Hice
Kat at 3 Bedroom Bungalow To Let In Crazytown
Joanne at Joanne Moving Forward - Half Speed
Dena at Thought By Dena
Dana at Life Is Good
Charmaine at Middle Aged Dating
Lisa at I Didn't Get The Message



We are playing hurry up and wait. The rash thingy on Johns neck has everyone stumped and they don't want to start chemo and possibly make it worse. So today they did a biopsy on it and they are supposed to start chemo tomorrow (Friday) . We've been stuck at Day -6 going on the third day! It's like the movie, Groundhog Day where the same day occurs over and over again!
It's kind of frustrating because it's just a little bug bite or something. but with cancer treatment, you really can't take any chances. Anyway, here's hoping tomorrow truly is Day -6 and we can get this countdown started!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Travel Tip Thursday: Celebrate the New Year with The Mummers!!


If you happen to be in Philadelphia at the end of the year, and you love being out in the cold, you just might want to check out The Mummer's Parade! Be prepared though! The parade takes all day to see everything! Dress warmly, and I'm not exaggerating!! You'll need hats, gloves, boots, warm socks, etc. Bring chairs, blankets, food, drink and find a good place to park your butts! Tickets for the grandstand outside of City Hall are for sale, but you can find a free spot along Broad Street, but you need to get there really early. I went one year, way back in 1978, but was fortunate enough to have had a friend lived who a few blocks from the parade route and we could go there for hot cocoa and warm up.

The Mummers parade consists of several categories of revellers. There are the Comics, the Fancy Brigades and the String Bands. Each division has clubs that participate in the parade each year. Their costumes are very well-guarded secrets, as are their very entertaining routines. Both costumes and routines are very elaborate affairs. The men and women practice all year long for this one day! Up until 1983, women were banned from participating in the Mummers parade but some managed to sneak their way in from time to time! They were women disguised as men disguised as women! Prizes are awarded and this is very important because it gives them funds to get ready for the next year! All the clubs do all kinds of fund raisers to get money for the next year.

The Comic Division

The Comic Clubs start the parade. Just like the name says, comedy is the focus. Each club has many Brigades offering a variety of themes that includes clowns, floats, and who knows?

This is just a sampling of the costumes worn by the men in the Comic Division. These fellows are part of the Goodtimers Comic Club!

Next up are the Fancy Brigades!

The Fancy Brigade Division is the youngest/newest of the four Divisions which make-up the Mummers Parade (the others include the Comics, Fancy Clubs and String Bands). But the Fancy Brigades and the Fancy Brigade Association have been around long before 1978.

The Fancy Brigades were first formed in the early 1940's. At that time they were referred to as "Groups". In 1947 they became known as Brigades. The Brigades paraded as part of the Fancy Division and were soon referred to as Fancy Brigades. (credit to

These fellows are part of the Downtowner Fancy Brigade. I just learned that my (ex) sister-in-law's late father was a member and a hall of Famer! The cost to put this whole thing together cost in excess of $150,000! these guys run fundraisers all year to

get the money to pay for the costumes and floats!

Finally, my favorites... The String Bands!

I love listening to the string bands perform! All those banjos and accordians! These fellows put on quite a performance! These fellows are with the South Philadelphia String Band!

Here's a video of Quaker City String Band performing Adventures in Paradise in 2008. These fellows won 2nd place that year. The video is a little shaky.

There's an update on John's hospital stay right below this post!

UPDATE: Day -6 and counting

Oh damn! I had a whole post typed up and I lost it!!!! Oh well.... here I go again.

Here we are at University of PA Hospital. Today is Day Minus 6, aka a week before the actual stem cell transplant. John will be getting 6 days of chemo (Tuesday to Sunday), followed by a day of rest (Monday) Then next Tuesday is Day 0, aka Transplant Day (John's new birthday). The transplant is just one day, but he'll need to rebuild his immune system, so he'll be here for several weeks doing just that. It's possible he might need a transfusion or two during the course of all this.

The chemo drugs are different than the 2 treatments he's had in the past 2 months. The first dose, which they'll do tonight, has an alcohol base, so he might get hangover symptoms! This man has never been drunk in his life, so he has no idea what a hangover feels like!

I wish I could remember what else I had typed here! When I have more info, I'll let you all know.


John has a rash or a bug bite or poison ivy or something on his neck, about the size of a nickel. He first noticed it on Thursday (I saw it Saturday when i got to his place for the weekend) I've been putting Neosporin on it. It's gone down from the size of a quarter. The nurse practitioner noticed it today and now they want a dermatologist to look at it.

He also showed a fever of 100.2 this afternoon (after registering 99.5 30 minutes earlier and they retested and he was 99.4). So they wouldn't start the chemo until a doctor looks at him.
All his blood work is good... he's not showing any signs of neutropenia (very low white blood cells). They are being SO careful!

Weight Watchers Wednesday

This is my first weigh-in day on Weight Watchers. Actually I'm doing this one a day early since I'll be going to stay at John's tonight (Tuesday) and take him to the hospital on Wednesday and he doesn't have a scale at his house. Someone, maybe Garret, proposed that perhaps I should post my starting weight and a before photo to encourage me to stay on track. So I'm going to do that. I'll get John to take a picture of me tonight and I'll add it later. In the meantime, here's one taken a week ago at work.

Me with Ashley, taken at TGI Fridays

8/05/09 starting weight 220 (YIKES!!!!)
8/12/09 week one 217

Down 3 pounds!!!! Woo hoo!!! Considering I'm still learning this program, I think I did OK this week! I know I made a few poor food choices, and I didn't do much in the way of working out, other than some yard work here and there (and my hamstrings are STILL yelling at me for that!), I think I did OK! This week, I'll do better.

My mini goals are to get to the next lowest 9 (219 (check!), 209, 199, 189, etc). I can't think in terms of "I need to lose 100 pounds." It's just too overwhelming! According to WW, with my height (5' maybe) and my age (53, 54 in a month), I should weigh between 102 and 128 lbs. At 102, I'll look anorexic, I think. So my goal weight is 120. I remember when we moved to this house 20 years ago, I was 140 and thought I was fat! I saw a picture of myself recently at that weight. I was smoking!! Then I got pregnant with Dani and I've been struggling ever since.

A few things I have learned this week:

~ I need to stick with salads when I eat at work, and to bring my own fat-free dressing with me. (I get free meals when I work until night shift arrives
. Not turning that down!)

~ Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen dinners are pretty good.

~ WW has some kick-ass desserts!

~ I can live without potatoes most of the time.

~ I must say good-bye to horseradish cheddar pub cheese and town house crackers (I will eat the entire sleeve of crackers. I CANNOT limit myself!)

~ Sugar free popsicles are awesome! 15 calories and no fat!

~ I truly do not like to exercise any more and will use any excuse not to do it.

~ I KNOW if I do some exercise the weight will come off more quickly.

~ Ken's Fat Free Raspberry Pecan dressing is FABULOUS!!

~ Veggies are my friends!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Is it just me or....

I know Keely's on vacation, but that doesn't mean we can't do RTT!!

Is it just me or ...

are most of the people who want to be your friend on BlogCatalog trying to sell you something?

do the people who are dieting and say they are so full they can't eat everything they're supposed to in the course of a day full of shit?

does the mailman take FOREVER to arrive when you know there's a check coming for you?

if you do wait for the mailman to arrive, the check will NOT be there!

does your day off go by much faster than your work day?


We are in the countdown to college at my house (18 days!) and my daughter doesn't have one blessed thing for her dorm. Her dad said he was wanted to take her shopping and get everything at once. I'm in charge of bras, panties and socks. My kids KNOWS who to go to for the big stuff! She does, however, have her student loans in place.

I have just discovered if I retire at 62, I'll collect a whopping $609 a month in social security but if I work until I'm 70, I can collect a grand total of $1185 a month!! All those years I chose to be a stay-at-home-mom was a good idea at the time, but I'll be paying for it in my "golden years".

I HAVE learned, however, if I don't get married again until after I turn 60, I'll be eligible for my ex's social security. Reason enough to not get married again!


OK, tomorrow's the big day! Tomorrow we wait for the hospital to call to let us know they have a room ready for John. Last month it took 2 days to get a room. I sure hope that's not going to be the case this time!

John will be getting a really high dose of the R-ICE chemo. I have a feeling this one's going to make him really sick. The other 2 times he had the chemo (in June and again in July) it took 3 days to administer the chemo. I don't know how long this one will take. After that, he'll be getting the stem cell transplant, to rebuild his immune system (which will be pretty much destroyed with this last does of chemo).

Hopefully, when this is done, the cancer will be gone for good, and he can work on getting stronger again. He was told he'd be in the hospital for a month, possibly as long as 6 to 8 weeks. I'm hoping that he's strong enough to get his health back quickly. If the stem cell harvest is any indication, he may very well, get well quickly. They expected the harvest to take 2 to 4 days and he had 4.5X the amount needed on the first day!

I'll know more tomorrow, I'm sure. They are very good about explaining everything in detail to us and don't mince words either.

So that's my update. More tomorrow, but late.

Spin Cycle: Worst Post Ever: My Firsts

This week's Spin Cycle is to post the WORST post ever! This was one of my very first attempts at blogging. I was tagged by my daughter to do this meme. Nobody responded... not even my own kid! I guess it's THAT boring! Anyway, prepare yourself for lots of yawns. This is: My Firsts, Originally posted on November 20, 2008

I don't know how to tag anyone, so if you feel like answering a few FIRSTS, feel free to copy and paste mine and replace the answers with fun stuff of your own!

My Firsts

Well, I considered myself tagged by Gina at My Inner Monoblog.

1. Who was your FIRST prom date? Kevin Kearney, my steady boyfriend

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? Nope. He died in 1990 at the ripe old age of 36.

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? beer

4. What was your FIRST job? I guess babysitting Joey and Maria Vangel (those kids are now 43 and 41 lol) My first JOB was at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, PA. It was a nursing home for priests. I served meals in the dining room.

5. What was your FIRST car? a 1975 Chevy Malibu that I inherited from my then husband's grandfather. I got it in 1983 and it had 19,000 miles on it!

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today? John Russo :)

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning? John. He woke me up shaving and brushing his teeth.

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher? Sr. Maria Crucius (not sure of the spelling there)
this is wrong! she was my Spanish 1 teacher in high school! I have no idea who my first grade teacher was! Sr. um.... er.... it was 47 years ago! 2nd grade was Miss Callum though!

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? Columbus, GA. I was visiting my sister and her family at Ft. Benning, GA

10. Who was your FIRST best friend and are you still friends with them? Kathy Coughlan! She lived next door and she was a year and a day older than me (we thought that was so cool!) I haven't heard from her in about 30 years or more.

11. What was your FIRST sport played? probably bowling. lol

12. Where was your FIRST sleep over? I can't remember. maybe Janice Hazinsky's house

13. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today? John, when I woke up.

14. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time? My brother, Michael's first wedding, in 1972. I was a bridesmaid.

15. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning? Got dressed and drove home

16. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to? Well, Singer, Melissa Manchester and Comedian, Robert Klein came and performed at my high school once. But my first REAL concert? (now don't laugh) 1990, I was 34 years old, pregnant with Dani and we saw Paul McCartney at the Vet Stadium in Philly.

17. FIRST tattoo or piercing? I pierced my own ears when I was 13, in 1969. I have no tattoos.

18. FIRST foreign country you went to? I went to Germany to vist Peggy and her family while they were stationed there. I changed planes in London first though. So would it be England or Germany?

19. What was your FIRST run in with the law? When I got caught parking with my boyfriend, Kevin. I was 16 and my dad's friend was the cop who caught us. I probably would have lost my virginity that night if he hadn't come around. and THANK GOD HE DIDN'T TELL MY FATHER! I wouldn't be alive today to tell the tale!

20. When was your FIRST detention? probably in high school. We used to miss the bus on purpose and go to 69th street to catch the connecting bus to O'Hara. But we had breakfast at Kresge's first. Got to school just in time for lunch! Well worth the detention!

21. What was the FIRST state you lived in? PA.

22. Who was the FIRST person to break your heart? Billy Shaw when he dumped me for that slut Mary Downs.

23. Who was your FIRST roommate? at home, it was Anne Marie, Peggy and Jeanne (my sisters) after I left home? My ex-husband Greg.(and to date, my only roommate)

24. Where did you go on your FIRST limo ride? to Holy Cross Church, my brother, Michael was getting married and I was a bridesmaid.

So, go on over and visit Jen at Sprite's Keeper, let her know you did a Spin Cycle by leaving a link. She'll link you up with everyone else on Friday!